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  • Judy Schulten

52. Start a Meetup group.

I already talked about starting a conversation group in tip #33, but now I'd like to encourage you with the specific story of my own successful group in Colorado, where I come every winter to ski. I started this group six years ago because I wanted to meet people who were as interested in Spanish as I am. After the first year, Lisa, one of the original members, put us on Meetup: Frisco Spanish Conversation. Since then, several people have faithfully kept the group going: Lisa, Candace, Frank. This last year, Frank, especially, has maintained regular meetings, chatting every week with whomever showed up.

We try to keep the conversation entirely in Spanish, with the help of frantic gestures, invented words, and a light attitude toward verb conjugations. We talk about our day, the weather, our travels—all the usual, general topics. We also have “topics,” written questions to prompt good stories. In a later post, I’ll give a list of topics for conversation. For now, here’s a topic that got a playful and clever answer: “You have to give a toast. Who will you toast? What will you say?” The man who chose this topic gave a long & heartfelt wedding toast to his friend (also  a member of the group) who seemed to have absolutely no plans at all for a wedding.

Two good suggestions for further help have recently been discussed. One was an endorsement of Duolinguo, which my daughter Sara has already written about. The other was a book and a TED talk, Forever Fluent, by Gabriel Wyner. I listened to the talk and was inspired by his insistence on immersion—allowing not even one word in your native language.

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53. Take heart from other mediocre linguists.

It's fun to read about other people's struggles with a second language. Fun, and somehow comforting. I just read Monsieur Mediocre, by John von Sothen, an American married to a French woman, living in


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